These are times that try men's souls

Sunday, September 17, 2006


Victor Hanson has a thought provoking post up on this sad age.

And what are we to make of poor Benedict XVI, the scholastic, who, in a disastrous display of public sensitivity, makes the telling point, that Christianity, in its long evolution to the present, has learned to forsake violence, and to defend its faith through appeals to reason—and thus can offer its own experience in the current crisis of Islam. And by quoting from the emperor rhetorician Manuel Paleologus—whose desperate efforts at strengthening the Morea and the Isthmus at Corinth a generation before that awful Tuesday, May 29, 1453 all came to naught—the Pope failed to grasp that under the tenets of radical Islam of the modern age, context means little, intent nothing, learning less than zero. If a sentence, indeed a mere phrase can be taken out of context, twisted, manipulated to show an absence of deference to Islam, furor ensues, death threats follow, assassins load their belts—even as the New York Times or the Guardian issues its sanctimonious apologies in the hope that the crocodile will eat them last.

We learned the now familiar rage with the Danish cartoons, Theo Van Gogh, the false flushed Koran story, the forced change of “Operation Infinite Justice” to “Enduring Freedom”, the constant charges of “Islamaphobia”, and a horde of other false grievances that so shook the West, traumatized in fear of having its skyscrapers, planes, trains, buses, nightclubs, and synagogues blown apart or its oil cut off.

So, yes, we know the asymmetrical rules: a state run-paper in Cairo or the West Bank, a lunatic Iranian mullah, a grand mufti from this or that mosque, can all rail about infidels, “pigs and apes”, in language reminiscent of the Third Reich—and meet with approval in the Middle East and silence in the West. But for a Westerner, a Tony Blair, George Bush, or Pope Benedict to even hint that something has gone terribly wrong with modern Islam, is to endure immediate furor and worse. In short, no modern ideology, no religious sect of the present age demands so much of others, so little of itself.

In matters of the present war, I have given up on most of the neoconservatives, many of whom, following the perceived pulse of the battlefield, have either renounced their decade-long, pre-September11 rants to remove Saddam (despite the 140,000 brave souls still on the field of battle who took them at their word), or turned on the President on grounds that he is not waging the perfect fight and thus is not pursuing the good war. The Paleo-right is as frightening as is the lunatic Left. My old Democratic party is long dead, their jackals trying to tear apart the solitary and stumbling noble stag Joe Liebermann, the old center taken over by the Kerry and Soros billionaires, and the guilt-ridden academic, celebrity and media cadres.


The photos are that of the Hagi Sofia in Istanbul and its last Emporer Constantine XI. Once upon a time it was the Church of the Divine Wisdom in a long dead city named Constantinople. Like the forgotten Emporer of that forgotten city, are we prepared to die fighting at the gates?

21 comments:

Skookumchuk said...

...are we prepared to die fighting at the gates?

Some of us. The sooner we know who will and who won't, the better.

Rick Ballard said...

Here is a link to the actual speech and another to the official Vatican follow-up.

One barrel for the savages and one barrel for the historicist/materialists. Clean hits with both shots. Pope Benedict is a formidable intellectual and achieved precisely what he intended.

The savages shot a nun in the back in retaliation, providing a clear answer to the Byzantine Emperors question. I believe that I will remain available for duty at the gates until relieved.

Luther McLeod said...

I think we should hope that we will have the 'opportunity' to "die fighting at the gates".

There may be no great battle's in this war. We are being led down the path of ignominy by the MSM, leftist academia and the self serving Dem's. By the time the general population understands what is occurring, it may well be too late for action.

terrye said...

luther:

This is true, my question was rhetorical.

The thing about all this that amazes me is the irony of it. The bookish Pope makes a reference to a 700 year old letter about reason and religion and as if on cue, jihadis make it plain that they do not read and they are not reasonable.

But you know what? There are a lot of Catholics and these same people threatened to kill the last Pope as well. Pissing off the Catholics might not be a good long term strategy for them.

Backshooting an old nun takes real guts, doesn't it?

Skookumchuk said...

Luther:

By the time the general population understands what is occurring, it may well be too late for action.

In Yurp, perhaps - a kind of balkanization. Yugoslavia writ large. Here things have yet to bottom out, but in the end we (or those of us who want to defend ourselves) will be OK. But there may be a terrible price to pay.

Luther McLeod said...

I know your question was rhetorical Terrye. But there may come a time when it will not be. My point was that I hope we will get the chance to defend ourselves.

Yes, shooting 70 year old nuns does not require much guts. But it does succeed in fostering terror. And that is the point?

Luther McLeod said...

Skookumchuk

I appreciate your optimism, though I think our "balkanization" continues apace, guided along by the malcontents I mentioned above.

We do have a few who speak with clarity, GW, VDH, you folks here at YARGB, blogs in general, and now joined by the Pope. But the messages are distorted and rendered meaningless by the time they reach the 'common' man. Yes, this will be a long war.

terrye said...

luther:

It also succeeds in making people hate your guts more than they fear you and I am not sure that is the point. They do not seem to understand that.

nomdeblog said...

rick ballard I agree it was a double-barrelled shot that should have been heard around the world as being double.. not just aimed at Islam. But I think it went right over the heads of the moral relativists .. .maybe because their heads are in the sand? However it did help arm the rest of us that need new ammo to fight the enemy within.

terrye said...

luther:

I am not so sure about that. Americans like their way of life, whatever their politics when push comes to shove they will not give up the booze, the gambling, and the Constitution.

who, me? said...

Don't be so sure the shot missed the moral relativists. They -- as in the NYTimes & others -- were quick on the draw to stir the Islamic pot.

Here's a post by IMO sophisticated Anglican missionary to Islam, Even the Past Must Submit:

"...historiography, anthropology and the philosophy of history ... are not simple questions or topics, and the capacity to engage in these discussions is simply not present within the Muslim world."

The comment box wouldn't take the link, so here it is, broken up:

http://etwist.blogspot.
com/2006/09
/abu-daoud-on-islam-pope.
html

Skookumchuk said...

Luther McLeod:

Sorry for the tardy reply, but 18 holes of golf got in the way. You said:

I appreciate your optimism, though I think our "balkanization" continues apace, guided along by the malcontents I mentioned above.

Crystal balls are not my specialty, but while we also have uncontrolled immigration, it is of Christians and not of Moslems. I meant real physical Balkanization in the case of Europe, with "no go" zones and possibly legally autonomous Moslem enclaves. They are edging closer to that by the day. And of course the pandering politicians will create a vastly more anti-American EU foreign policy. Then there is the rise of the new national socialists as the only alternative to PC culture, given that Europe's political vocabulary is so stunted that not much can be discussed among those in mainstream parties. We in America should know where parliamentary gag rules on debate can lead. Not pretty.

It is true that we in America will have a continuing battle of the wills between those who wish to confront Islam and those who wish to hide from it. Consequently our willingness to battle militant Islam will wax and wane, as I've often said. That is just human nature at work.

Given that we don't have a flood of Moslem immigrants, our political system has yet to produce a George Galloway. And while we certainly have to guard against the centrifugal forces of PC culture dividing us further, perhaps the high water mark of PC has beeen reached. I think the parades full of Mexican flags may have been it. At least I hope so. Obviously things will be rough, and we will be in this for at least a century or two or more, but I'm confident that our future will not be the same as Europe's.

And we'll not discuss what happened to me today on the 15th with the water hazard and all, now will we.

Peter UK said...

"...are we prepared to die fighting at the gates?"

No,to paraphrase one of your countrymen,
"I want them to die fighting at their gates".

Luther McLeod said...

PeterUK - Excellent point.

Terrye

I'm sorry, but I don't see enough people "hating their guts", I see more willing to fear or at the least, willing to ignore their transgressions in the vain hope of "peace". On the other hand, I think you may have pegged it with this:

"they will not give up the booze, the gambling, and the Constitution"

Distressing to some perhaps, but if it allows us to continue our way of life, well then...

Skookumchuk

"I meant real physical Balkanization "

Yes, I know, and I should have been clearer. True, we have a long way to go before becoming anything like "Yurp". But Balkanization can occur beyond the physical boundaries, of course. Our 51/49 split does indicate some measure of same, especially if broken down into its component parts.

We all like to think that when confronted with a large enough measure of incentive, this country will unite above partisan differences. I am just not so sure of that anymore. No, we don't have our George Galloway's as yet, but we do certainly have some who would swing that way, if given the opportunity...let's see, Kerry in Paris in 72?

As far as that 15th hole, we're just out there to have fun...right? The water only exists if you look at it. Look at the pin, not the water.

Skookumchuk said...

Luther McLeod:

We all like to think that when confronted with a large enough measure of incentive, this country will unite above partisan differences.

Maybe because we remember those halcyon days of World War II and Cold War bipartisanship, before Vietnam. Certainly we could use a strong dose of that kind of thinking now. But sadly, I think such unity has been the exception and not the norm in American history. We - somehow - have to win this fight without such unity.

That probably means we have to win without Greenwich, Connecticut or Beverly Hills, without academia or the bureaucracy or the presse ancienne. So be it. It can and will be done in the end. But it will change us in the process and will have a transformative effect on the relationship between Blue and Red America, on academia, and on the press in ways we can't yet see.

In other words, in order to win the fight against militant Islam, we need a sort of quiet revolution in American intellectual life, or the creation of parallel institutions as the old ones fail to adjust to the new world. To some degree, with the conservative revitalization in the 1980's and later, and now in the blogosphere, this is already well under way. What forms this may take in the future is something we should be discussing now. It will be very interesting.

Look at the pin, not the water.

Yeah, that is what they all tell me...

Luther McLeod said...

Skookumchuk

First of all, Luther is fine. I am not really/nearly that formal :-)

Yes, those halcyon days were, perhaps, an anomaly. And, yes, those days do sway my thought. Though I realize that in 17, 42 or even 47 there was still discontent and vociferous disagreement with the direction that this country followed.

But, yet, how do we win this war without some degree of unity? I ask not as a challenge, but as unknowing. I mean, you do give an answer in, a "quiet revolution" or "parallel institutions" but how does that come about? Just how do we get everyday "Joe", of which I am one, to see the larger picture and concomitant threat.

In regards to my advice about hazards, I did not mean to be sanctimonious. My under a hundred days have been few and far between.

Skookumchuk said...

Luther:

I mean, you do give an answer in, a "quiet revolution" or "parallel institutions" but how does that come about?

I don't know either. But like I say, that is what we should be discussing. We'll need every tool at our disposal in order to win. Not just on the battlefield.

Hey, no problem with the water hazards. We went with another couple. At least once every game he mutters something like "Oh, those haggis-eating bastards!" So I suggested we arrive next time with scuba masks and snorkels. Though swim fins might get a bit tough to walk in after a while. But hey, that's why they invented electric golf carts...

Luther McLeod said...

Skookumchuk

Fair enough. We will overcome, through different and varied ways, as compared to the past.

As to your friend, I agree with him. I hate the game, but, if not required to work for a living, would spend much of my life playing it. Plus, sounds as if your 'other' plays as well, sounds like heaven. Good night.

terrye said...

luther:

My brother is one mean liberal, he may shoot his mouth off about Bush, but there is no way in hell he will ever convert or even attempt to accomdadate thimself to these cracy people. The very idea is ridiculous. We see people like him, who doubt all this and assume they will not fight... no...they just have to believe there is a fight. It all sounds like alien abduction to them.

Luther McLeod said...

Terrye

I'm not talking about conversion or accommodation.

"they just have to believe there is a fight"

This is what I'm talking about, that by the time that realization dawns on them it may well be too late. I believe the pacifist streak that's around now is much larger in scope than in the past. I finally pinned a bro-in-law down, a while back, on just when he would commence to fight. Turns out it would be just shy of the driveway to his nice house. I mentioned it might be a little late by then, the significance of that did not appear to disturb him or alter his liberal views that Bushco is the source of all evil in the world.

Skookumchuk said...

There is one important distinction between this and our earlier fight against the Communists. Western intellectuals of course thought that Socialism was, in some form, not only attractive but an historical inevitability. While the Gramsicans may see the value of jihadism, they do not feel attracted to it. They and the Islamists simply happen to hate Christianity and the primacy of the West. But otherwise, they despise each other. Now, whether that will mean anything in the future as a practical matter remains to be seen.